29 Third Mission 1853-1854

William Warner Major


Jill C. Major, Author


William settled in an apartment on 35 Jewin Street, London which he shared with other missionaries. It was at this address in London that the "Millennial Star," a Church publication in England, was sold. At the bottom page of the "Millennial Star" it reads, "London: For sale at the L.D. Saints' Book Depot, 35 Jewin Street, City and all Booksellers." 1

Daniel Tyler's journal

Daniel Tyler arrived in England before William. He also received an appointment as the "pastorter of the London, Reading, Kent and Essex Conferences to succeed in Benjamin Brown, to labor with him until Jan. 1rst then to enter as pastor or president of said conference..." Tyler was an interesting man. Born in New York in 1816, he joined the Church in 1833 at the age of 17. When Brigham Young asked for 500 men to join the Mormon Battalion, Tyler volunteered and later wrote a book about the history of the Mormon Battalion. Although he was first assigned to England on his mission, he was transferred and became one of the first missionaries to labor in Germany and Switzerland. In 1873 Tyler was ordained a Patriarch by Brigham young. He died in 1906.2 From Tyler's journal we learn more about William's mission:

November - Daniel Tyler's journal

Saturday 19

Returned to 35 Jewin St. found Bro Major.

Monday 21

I went with Bros Major and Marsden to visit Bro and Mrs. Brand after which we went to a festival in Bayswater where Bro Major and myself gave a general description of the things in general connected with the valley. [A festival appears to be like a ward or branch party.]

Wednesday 23

(My birthday) Went with Bro. Major to Bro Blair's thence to meeting. Poor turnout owing to the dense fog.

Tuesday Evening 20

, attended Bro W.W. Major's lecture, Finsbury, good spirit.

[As Christmas drew near, William's heart must have ached for his family at home. His family in England was in tormoil and provided no comfort as the following journal entry reveals:]

Thursday 22

at Old Kent Road with Bro Brown evening Meeting. This day Bro Marsden, Major and self cut Richard Major off the Church for adultery.

Saturday, 24

went with Bro. Brown and Major to Chelmsfoth by R.R. to attend Essex Conference. Priesthood meeting in the evening. Good spirit.

Sunday Dec 25

Conference meeting, business and remarks forenoon; preaching per self Bros Brown and Major afternoon and evening. Great degree of the Spirit of the Lord present.

Monday morning 26

Bro Major returned to London to fill an appointment...

Tuesday 27

returned with Bros Brown, Slack and Kemp to Bro Reeds in London. Bro Major went to Holborn Barrs to festival. The balance of us staid all night Bro Reeds. Bro Brown was presented with a silver watch. [He was returning home from his mission.]

January 1854 - Daniel Tyler's journal

Monday January 2/54

Tended a festival in the evening at British School...had a very good Social party and a plenty to eat as well, and some rich songs and recitations.

Tuesday 3rd.

Spent the day with Brother Marsden and Major getting furniture for the house 35 Jewin St.

Wednes 4

Rail roads still obstructed with snow so that the mail due on yesterday has not arrived.

Friday 13th

Went on a visit with Elder Major, Marsden, Robinson and Brand to Mr. Furns'. Broke up about 11.

Monday 23

Went with Bro. Major to the museum and was well entertained. Admittance Free.

[William celebrated his 50th birthday in England, on January 27, 1854.]

February 1854 - Daniel Tyler's journal

18 Saturday

, At Jewin St. Bro Major not well. My health is getting better.

March 1854 - Daniel Tyler's journal

Tuesday 7

, Went with President Spencer and Elder Major to dine with Elder Robinson. Health not very good.

[This is the first time that Daniel Spencer is mentioned in the journals. He was born in Massachusetts in 1794 and was 60 years old at this time. Spencer was made President of the Great Salt Lake Stake of Zion at the time that William was on the high council. During this mission he served as first councilor to President Franklin D. Richards. His famous brother was the apostle Orson Spencer.]

Saturday 18

Went with Bro. Spencer and Major to dine with President Robinson. Returned to Jewin St.

Friday 24

, Went by oposision train to London. Found Mrs. Brand very bad with her eye. Elder Major well.


Richard Major immigrates

Richard Major Jr, the brother of William, became convinced that he too needed to make the long trip to America. The records do not state whether or not his membership in the Church was reinstated at this time. In the Spring, on April 4, 1854, the Major family set sail with a group of Saints on the "Germanicus". The ship's roster lists the members of this family:


Richard Major 44 House painter

Martha A. 49

Richard 16

William 13

Martha A. 11

Caroline M. 8

Mary Agnes infant

As a reference they gave the name of William Major and the address of 35 Jewin St., London to the ship's clerk and it was recorded on the roster.

The voyage of the "Germanicus" was adventurous and tragic. It docked first at St. George (part of the Bermuda Islands), then next at Tortugus (just off the coast of Haiti). Thomas Sleight, one of the passengers who crossed the Atlantic in the ship "Germanicus" wrote this account:

I Thos. Sleight, son of Richard Sleight and Ann Lamb, left Liverpool England bound for the United States April 4 1854 in the ship "Germanicus" bound for New Orleans, with about 500 passengers on board; about one half of these were Latter-day saints, the rest Irish. We tried to find the trade winds but failed. When near the West Indies some of the sailors went on shore to get water, as the ship's supply was running short. They took on board a few casks of water. A few miles from Cuba our ship struck bottom, which compelled us to remain stationary until the next day when the tide came in and sailors tied a rope to the ship after which they in their row boat pulled us off. We arrived at New Orleans June 12, 1854 having spent 67 days in making the voyage from Liverpool to New Orleans. At the latter port we shipped on board the steamboat "Uncle Sam" destined for St. Louis Missouri. 14 days were spent to reach that city. We were detained at the quarantine island below St. Louis where many died. Our detention at quarantine was not necessary as we had obtained a clean bill of health from the doctor.3

As they started out on May 30 from Tortugus,[probably the place where Thomas Sleight said they "struck bottom" little Mary Agnes Major was ill. One day later, May 31, this infant died. Ebenezer Farnes, who also sailed to America from England as a Mormon Pioneer, described a burial from a ship:

"The burial at sea is a sad thing. The body is sewn in a canvas, and a ball of iron placed at their feet so as to make the body sink feet first so the sharks cannot get it. A long plank is placed on the rail of the ship, part on the ship and part over the water, and the body is placed on the plank, feet to the water. After the burial ceremony the plank is lifted at one end, and the body slides into the sea. You can see the body go slanting down for a long distance."4

Two weeks after the death of Mary, the ship docked in New Orleans 5 How this family must have suffered not even having a place on the earth to put flowers on their baby's grave.

Richard Major Jr. and his family also took a steamboat up the Mississippi River. There is a family tradition that a brother of W.W. Major went to Utah, didn't like it and so moved on to California.  It is not known if Richard visited California, but if so, he returned to St. Louis where he and his family lived out their lives on a small farm. 

Richard's son, William Major, stayed with the Terry family in St. Louis.  He was living with his Aunt and Uncle, John and Elizabeth Terry, at the time the 1860 census was taken, practicing the trade of upholsterer with his uncle. William Major, the nephew of William Warner Major, married Matilda Bradley in the Trinity Church of St. Louis shortly after the end of the Civil War on Christmas Day, December 25, 1866.6 He raised a family in St. Louis.7

May-June 1854 - Daniel Tyler's journal

[May] 4 Thursday, Received a letter from Mr. Shaw refusing to attend council. Letter presented. 12 a.m. opened council. Present Elders W. W. Major, ...John Robinson, James Marsden, John Chislett, Daniel Tyler, President. After a careful hearing decided to cut him off. Carried. 

[May] Sunday 4th

Evening attended Elder Major's lecture at Lamboth.

William H. Kimball

On June 4th, William H. Kimball, the son of Heber C. Kimball and Vilate Murray, arrived in England to preach the gospel. He was born in New York in 1826 and was 28 years old at the time he became William W. Major's missionary companion. The Major and Kimball families had served the Lord together. They first met in Nauvoo. William Major is mentioned several times in Heber C. Kimball's journal: William Major and Heber C. Kimball along with others hung portraits in the Nauvoo temple. At least two of those pictures were painted by William W. Major. William Kimball traveled to Utah in Brigham Young's company in 1848. The Major family had crossed the plains in this same company. The following are excerpts from Kimball's diary:


: June 7th, Left Liverpool at 7 1/2 oc[lock] a.m. Arrived at London at 6 1/2 oc[lock] p.m. Took super at Br Edmond Brands, then went to limehouse to a festival. There met Brothers D. Tyler and Majors. There spoke a few minutes then returned to Jewin, London City.

Letter and final testimony to Brigham Young

On this day William Warner Major took a few moments to write a letter to his dear friend, Brigham Young. (Because the original letter is included in this manuscript, I have corrected the punctuation and spelling here for easier reading.)

Letter 35 Jewin Street, City, London

June 7 Thursday 7 June. 1854

? of the branches in his care

President Brigham Young

L(pound)10 order ? of his wife's

Dear Brother,

I truly rejoice to inform you of the welfare of the branches of the church in London wherein I am labouring and although my health has been very poor hitherto, yet I have by the grace of God fought the good fight and kept the field and we have the pleasure to baptize every week many promising soldiers. The devil [is] raging and firing off his big guns which I love to hear as it shows he is alarmed and uneasy and I hope while he is unbound he ever will be alarmed and do his best while we are close by. I don't care how hot the fight is or how close for I know that our weapons are almighty, all powerful and the stronger the enemy the more honor to overcome the short, powerful, pithy key words which I have treasured up carefully in my brains which at divers times you have taught us I find a treasure to me in all places.

I never forget you from morn till even and after I have faithfully fulfilled my mission I shall rejoice to see your face again. I am gathering up all the knowledge that is scattered about that I can in various matters pertaining to science in chemicals and other useful articles, first public then private is my motto in the Church of Christ.

I am happy to shake hands with William Kimble [Kimball] today. Just arrived. Joseph Young

[the son of Brigham Young] he tells me is in Liverpool. I send you by this the second or duplicate of the order from S.W. Richards for ten pounds: 8 for Sarah my first [wife]and 2 for Elizabeth [pologamist wife] which I would feel obliged if you would let them have. I paid the money into Wilton Street [church headquarters in Liverpool, England] with 8 pounds for tithing and offering. Please to remember me kindly and gratefully to Sister Mary Young [Brigham's wife] and all enduring friends.

My brother Richard is started and has a small parcel for you and if you wish me to get any thing especial for you in London just let me know and I will do my best to obtain it.

I had a painful journey to here in the flesh, but rejoiced in the spirit and do rejoice in the work of doing good and declaring the truth in Jesus. I pray the God of Israel to bless you to fill you with his power that you may live long and health prosperity and happiness may attend you and fill your tabernacle is the prayer of your faithful servant and friend in Christ Jesus Amen.

W. W. Major

 Used by permission of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints

June - Taken from Daniel Tyler's journal

Thursday 8th

William H. Kimball and self went to Reading on our way to Newbury [There is no punctuation in this sentence so it is unclear.] Held meeting in evening. Eld Maj(or) came during meeting. Eld Kimball's third address...

Monday 12

, Self, Elder Major and William H. Kimball return to London to attend Priesthood meeting. We had a good meeting at white chapel. A collection once in six weeks to be taken up for my support.

General Council - Major's report

Also in June, from Monday the 26th to late Wednesday night the 28th, William attended a special general council of the authorities of the Church in the British Isles which was held in London. The apostle Franklin D. Richards was the presiding authority at the conference. Each of the Elders and leaders were invited to stand and give a report of their labors. Elder John Robinson, a missionary companion of William, stated:

The London Conference is in good condition. The Saints are united in rolling forth the work. They rejoice much in the blessings of the Gospel, and have confidence in all the authorities of the Church. We have a good deal of out door preaching, and there are several anti-Mormon lecturers employed against us, but they really do us good. I have nothing to complain of in the London Saints.

On the Wednesday of this council W.W. Major reported:

The ten Branches under my care are doing well. We have baptized thirty-four within the last three months, having a good attendance of strangers, and many earnest inquirers after truth. We have got our book [they had to purchase copies of the Book of Mormon and also sell the "Millennial Star" ] debts and Hall rents nearly all paid off, and some of them were heavy. As to the Presidency at Liverpool, we always hold them in honourable remembrance, and sustain them in mighty faith and prayers. We always intend to honour those whom the God of Israel honours.8

August - Taken from William H. Kimball's journal


...went to Patington Branch chapel to attend party and saw Joseph Smith exhibited with sum other drawings, then returned to Jewin Street City.

[According to Glen M. Leonard, Director of the Museum of Church History and Art, "Sutcliffe Maudsley, an English immigrant to Nauvoo, did profile drawings of Joseph and Hyrum Smith in 1842-44, which were copied as stone lithograph line drawings...Since Kimball mentions 'other drawings,' I suspect he was seeing a version of the Maudsley pen and ink/watercolor drawings."9]


Wrote to James Furguson and to Jesse B. Martin, then went to the Finsbury Branch Chapel with Brother W.W. Majors and preached.